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Two days ago I went to Northside Honda in San Antonio, for an oil change and regular maintenance where I was assured it would take two hours. After five hours of waiting without an update, a hello, or a kiss my brake fluid, I finally wrote a check for work done and left with my car, albeit, on unhappy terms with Ralph, my “service representative.” 

The next afternoon at 4pm, Ralph called to say my check had “been voided” and I needed to bring him another check RIGHT NOW, before they closed. I told him I couldn’t come to the dealership, but I would mail them another check in the morning. Sixty seconds later Ralph called back and said his boss told him to come to my house NOW and GET MY CHECK. When I told him I wasn’t home, he said, “Well where are you?” When I said I was in Fredericksburg, Texas, he told me he was leaving NOW and would drive to Fredericksburg and FIND ME. I should have said, “Do you realize how creepy that is, Ralph,” but I didn’t. (Even under the best of conditions that’s an hour and a half drive, but in rush hour traffic with highway construction and lane closures… ?) Instead I told Ralph their strong-arm tactics were offensive and not to call me again, but I would put another check in the mail.

Well guess what Ralph? I’ve changed my mind. First I want an apology for making me wait five hours, and then I want another apology from you and your boss for the two phone calls where you tried to intimidate and bully me. You browbeat the wrong woman, Ralph.

If you’re longtime readers of my blog then you know I reach a lot of readers not just in San Antonio, but all over the world. You also know I am known for encouraging people and lifting them up. This is not my typical blog, but I hope it will help you find your voice if you are mistreated like I was.

This post is for all women of a certain age–the wealthiest demographic in history–who are ignored, taken advantage of, disrespected and treated unfairly. I believe the term is “discrimination.”

Ralph is this how you treat all of your customers or just 71-year-old widows with grey roots in their hair? Since I bought my car from Northside Honda–the dealership you work for–you had all of my information at your fingertips: You knew how old I was, how I financed it, how much money I put down, that I have never been late on a payment and that I have always come to Northside Honda for my service.

Ralph you and your boss’s behavior is in the same league as sleazy bookies, drug dealers and members of the mob who harass people to collect on bad debts.

Is this what you call “customer service?”

The only reason my check was “voided” was because it didn’t have my driver’s license number on it. Your bad, Ralph, not mine.

In light of full disclosure, I did deduct $30 from my bill, $10 for each hour beyond the two hours I was told it would take to service my car. Why? Because when I would ask for an update on my car, Northside Honda repeatedly lied to me… 30 more minutes, 30 more minutes… plus here’s the real kicker: They didn’t even pull my car into the service area until FOUR HOURS after I’d arrived. How do I know this? Because of Covid, I sat outside the entire time with my mask on and watched them.

This is not the first time Northside Honda in San Antonio, near the intersection of Highway 281 and Loop 410, has mistreated and disrespected its customers and made them wait hours and hours for their car. Check out their awful reviews on Yelp. 

And six months ago the dashcam video of a Northside Honda customer went viral when it recorded the thug like tactics used by Northside Honda’s service people: “We’re going to let this motherfucker’s car sit an hour because that guy is an asshole,” a Northside Honda employee can be heard saying when the customer’s car was pulled into the service department.

To Howard Herman, Chief Operating Officer of Northside Auto Group (which also sells Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet) and Paul Hopkins, Northside Honda General Manager: In an 8/24/20 interview with Niccole Caan of KENS-TV, Hopkins claims the dash cam video is not the way Northside Honda does business… but obviously it is. He also claims to have counseled their employees on how to act and how not to act in the future. Maybe so, but when was the last time a head rolled so your people know you mean business? I’m guessing never. 

You are only as good as the people who work for you.

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  1. Sorry this happened to you Brenda and way to go for sharing. Now if only some BIG changes are made at the dealership.

  2. Go Brenda. Good head’s up about worst practices. You’re a lot nicer than me.

    About 2 decades ago, car repair, dealership, over a week in the shop, huge inconvenience, they phoned car was ready/repaired.

    They had me pay, then get car.

    Car was still broken in same spot. Never touched.

    Went back to get my money. Employee said they had already closed till for the day. Asked for my money, NOW. Again, no money can be returned, the till is closed out.

    Walked to woman’s desk, real close, leaned into her face, and Providence produced that rare from-the-gut-voice-of-an-animal, “Give me my money, or I phone police NOW.”

    Got my money, got my car.

    Took car to another garage, repaired in an afternoon. Cheaper than dealer, of course.

    Have assembled my team, moving rural a few years ago, car repair, construction, painting, electrical, plumbing, hair, realtor, doctor…..Trusted individuals….good people.

    Just WOW…………..what happened to you.

    Hope it’s already warming for you, into a beautiful spring. And, you weren’t affected by the COLD and power outages.

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

  3. Brenda: As the wife of a former franchised car dealer ( up until two years ago when he retired after 47 years) let me tell you how to handle this ; send a copy of this post to All companies represented by this auto group pronto. Send it to whoever is head of Ford of North America, Honda of North America, Mercedes of North America, etc. Each franchise should receive a copy of this and show cc at the bottom as they all should know who is being sent a copy. I can promise you , you will get results, it might take a couple of weeks. This is reprehensible. Other than the topic I was delighted to see your post this morning! Good luck and keep us posted. Let me end by saying there are very good car dealers out there, I know, we were one of them.

    • Bravo to you, Brenda! I agree with the post above…send this to the top of every dealer ASAP, not just Honda! A bad apple/treatment such as this can make the whole industry look bad! Women in general are mistreated, talked down to and I resent it! Thank you for speaking up!

  4. This is the type of situation that makes my glasses steam up! How dare they hassle you, or anyone, because one of their employees made an error (not performing due diligence in documenting a check). I hope they have since returned that “voided” check to you–they sound like just the kind of business that would “mistakenly” cash both checks. If you publish the mailing address of the CEO, I bet there would be more than a few of your readers who would be willing to let them know, via mail, that they messed with the wrong woman.

  5. He said he was going to drive to your home!?! That alone is the most harassing thing I’ve heard of. Your story was riveting. Lovely to hear from you. Looking forward to your book with lots more stories. Shake it off, let it go and don’t waste your time thinking of them any further! Losers!!

  6. Good for you Brenda! Good that you have a platform and not afraid to use it. Keep us posted on this one.
    I don’t feel my age and so don’t think about it much. However, when I feel I’m not treated like I should be and realize its probably because of my age it stops me in my tracks. Last time I went to a Sephora looking for some new products it was like I was invisible in there! I almost had to run after a clerk for help….then I told myself why would I put up with this garbage and left. They lost a sale, but then do they really care…. I never went back to that store.
    It still bothers me that I didn’t complain to management about it. This happened 3 years go!

  7. You Go Girl! Not surprisingly, I see additional testimonials to poor treatment. Mine? Best Buy Geek Squad. Made an appointment. Stood in the appointment line. Younger male customers helped first while I waited 40 minutes! When I finally raised my hand for a turn, the Geek (a female), said “Oh, I didn’t see you!” Gaaaaahhhh! I can also attest the the Sephora experience but mine was at Ulta. Begrudgingly helped in the Lancome section when I asked for assistance with the foundation selection. Yes, I do remember the intoxicating feeling of youthful beauty but we seem to have forgotten to teach our children to respect aging. After all, to grow old is a privilege we should all hope to enjoy!

  8. The first words that came to my mind when he said he was coming to your house were, “Oh. Hell. No!” I knew he was messing with the wrong gal! Good for you, Brenda! Way to remind women to stand up for themselves… and I’m willing to bet they treat all of their customers that way.
    I’d like to share this with my friends, if that’s okay with you

  9. I’m sorry you had to endure this treatment, but sadly a lot of us have been in your place. Deborah had good points. Thank you for not letting his bullying go unnoticed. BRAVO!

  10. BRAVA GIRLFRIEND!! You’re never afraid to stand up for what’s right and you are the best champion for those of us who don’t have a voice or are too afraid to speak up! Someone needs to give you your own TV show!! You’re beautiful and articulate and things like this happen everyday to millions of women but there’s no one who will speak up for us! You hear that Good Morning America? Give this woman a place on your show!! Love you girl, Barbara

  11. Amazing that this dealership is still in business! Maybe this post will make a large dent in their clientele. Since you purchased the car from them and had continued to have it serviced there, it is plain stupid that they would not take your check because of the missing license information. Are you sure this place isn’t run by criminals? Their behavior toward loyal customers is just that…criminal. Ah, I am so glad we drive very old vehicles and have a reliable mechanic to take care of maintenance. I agree with Miss Deborah and her plan of action. Take care and give Miss Annie a hug from me and my Chis. xoxo

  12. Go Brenda! Go Brenda!

    APPALLING! And shameful. I cannot get over their behavior. LOVE that you shared all the details. Let’s hope that it hurts them where it counts – the wallet. I feel you should take this up the food chain. They need to be held accountable for this!

    Good for you!

  13. Never do business with these thugs again. There is so much wrong with the way you were treated I cannot begin to elaborate! And the service writer he deserves a punch on the nose!

  14. REPREHENSIBLE!! And boy oh boy did they target the wrong woman!! Bravo for standing your ground ~ not surprising IN THE LEAST and also for making this known in a highly public manner. Deborah has some superior recommendations which I am sure you will take advantage of in due time. Having been taken advantage of simply because I am a woman, this resonates with me very personally. I, too, took the business owner to task & resolved my issue & thankfully the owner agreed with me & fired the guilty employee. When Ralph said “I’ll be at your house” & “I’ll drive to Fredericksburg,” a policeman would be waiting for him if I know you at all. Again….good on you for standing firm & getting your individual issue resolved.


  16. That would be the last time I went back to that dealership. Unfortunately, they must not care about negative reviews from customers as long as people continue to bring their cars there. Thugs like this only care about money and have no boundaries on how they go about getting it. I would report them to The BBB and let them investigate. Then I’d go on YELP and leave your review. Trust me they can only run from terrible service for so long . What they probably didn’t count on is your tenacity , for that they will pay a price far greater than the bill they tried to collect. XO

  17. What they threatened is also illegal. Please notify the fraud division of the police. In addition send a letter to the State Attorney General office for consumer affairs and fraud. Just think, if they did this to you what might be happening to others. The business office of this dealership would be the one to contact customers. I think he was acting on his own and worried because he messed up and has probably messed up before with a warning not to do so again. I have a similar horror story and hope you pursue this all the way.

  18. Oh my goodness that is such a DIFFERENCE from the the service I currently receive here in Canada = complete opposite. I get my appointment – do I want to go back home and wait – if so – driven back home – if not I go to the mall close by. When they say it will take X hrs for any work – it is right on time. As a senior I get 10% off!
    I too would not tolerate that behaviour/threats from Ralph.
    When I dealt with a different Honda dealership and had a problem re not being offered a courtesy car I called the head office of Honda in eastern Canada and put in a complaint. Then the dealership offered a car from a rental dealership. Afterwards I had to deal with the Honda manager and stuck FIRM that I wanted a rebate re the rental car mileage charge. Like who rents a car if they are going on holiday and wants to pay a mileage charge! He gave me a credit on the $300+ for mileage. This dealership was too funny – telling me it would take 3 months to get an oil pan from Japan. I said have you not heard of Xpress Post and you can’t tell me there isn’t an oil pan available in North America. How about taking a pan off one of the unsold cars in your lot! Well I had my car fixed in 3 days not 3 months.
    After this I switched to the current dealership who give GREAT service.
    I’m almost tempted to write Ralph a letter!

  19. Dear Ralph, not only did you pick on the wrong 71 year old widow, but that 71 year old widow is a survivor in every sense of the word. She isn’t going to just sit there and take it. I went online and read of (didn’t watch) that video, saw the bad reviews on Yelp, and also saw bad reviews on another rating website. Sometimes you can’t trust the rating websites but sometimes they are telling the absolute truth. So, the woman who commented and told you just who to write letters to, I hope you do that and I hope your outrage gets you some wonderful results. Why? Because women are tired of being treated as 3rd class citizens. When we were young we were hopeful and now we are still fighting those battles in our 60’s and 70’s. Thank you for not taking it!

  20. This is frightening! I agree with what every other comment say, but I would go a step further. I would ASK everyone to share this, which already did. I would make a Instagram REEL standing outside this dealership, I would make a facebook video or live and I I call your local tv station and ask them to do a story on this. This is harassment and it should not be tolerated.

  21. Sharon, Sandra Sallin sent me here from an Instagram story. Well done for changing before their eyes from someone whom they considered an invisible insignificant grey non-entity into a real, alive, powerful, ferocious, sadly wounded customer. Congratulations from Australia. The same sort of thing can happen here too. You are a legend! @shelleydark

  22. Bravo Brenda! ! Thank you for sharing. Lots of red flags Northside Honda!!! Definitely not the friendly Honda people!!!!!

  23. This is completely reprehensible and just plain WRONG. NOT OK. Creepy, inappropriate on every level, and aggressive. I am so sorry, and I’m so glad you stood your ground!!

  24. Wow! I would be inquiring with the DA about their behavior. I’ll bet you wouldn’t be the first to complain. Perhaps you need to find an independent mechanic who treats everyone with respect.

  25. So glad you shared this, Brenda, and that you followed what could be a humiliating experience with your dignity and righteous anger. I have developed a somewhat laissez-faire attitude to car repairs. If it’s going to be over an hour, I have them take me home. The money issue is unforgivable! Not only creepy, but personally threatening. I’m pleased you deducted some money; I probably would have not paid them. It’s great you have a large platform to air this on. Your courage in standing up to them is inspirational. Keep it up.

  26. Way to go Brenda. I feel you will hear from someone, however I would not do business there again. Keep us posted. Take good care

  27. Brenda, I’ve thought about your experience a lot–since my father was a Chrysler dealer–a jillion years ago. I’m wondering if Ralph had really bad plans for you. This just doesn’t sound at all normal. Could he have been thinking of attacking you? Robbing you? Please post a follow-up on what happens!!

  28. I’m horrified at the way you were treated and the way they treat their customers! And that video! Honda needs to strip them of their dealership and Ralph and his boss and their bosses boss need to be fired. Thank goodness we have women we trust, like you, to stand up to these guys and to advocate for us. We would follow you anywhere Brenda.

  29. Brenda,
    Thank you for this post. I live in San Antonio and you can bet that I will never be going to Northside Honda ! They often send me post cards asking me to come in for service or to see what my car is worth as a trade in. I had the major ( 7 year) maintenance done there on my Honda Pilot when it was still Benson Honda. The service was excellent, the whole experience ( with a woman customer service rep.) was smooth and problem free. I have considered going back there but not now! I’ll stick with my neighborhood mechanic. After what they put you through, I hope you’ll take some satisfaction in knowing that you have cost Northside Honda the future business of another senior lady and I will be telling everyone I know to avoid them like the plague!

  30. This sounds familiar (except for the creepy phone calls and wanting to hunt you down!!). I drove Hondas for nearly 30 years and I had great customer service; in fact, one guy in the service department went “above and beyond”. As the years and decades went by, I noticed he ballooned with this weight. He left to go to another dealership in the next city over at better pay. The service dept. at my Honda dealership rapidly went down the toilet. I’m guessing his weight gain may have been because he was trying to keep the ship afloat all by himself. My next car was a Hyundai and I love it and my dealership has excellent customer service. Too bad, as Honda is one of the best cars on the market!

  31. Go to a Howdy Honda in Austin. They have given us superior service for four cars for years! We love Howdy!

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